'Cause I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter since I met you
I haven't seen Draco in more than a year.
I'm not sure how long he's been standing there, or how often he comes here, for that matter.
I suppose it's some consolation that I'm one of the few people he still keeps in contact with. The girl he hated at school. The girl he eventually came to know, befriend and more importantly, trust. Change and adaptation was the name of the game during the war. And Draco was the best chameleon out of all of us. Still waters run deep, as they say. And Draco, well…he's fathomless.
In fact, those were Harry's words.
I was the one to bring them together, Harry and Draco. And I think a part of Draco will always hate me for this. Ron and I, we're constant, living reminders of Harry. Of the young man Harry was, of what he will never be. Loss was something all of us learnt about during the course of the war, and some lessons were harsher than others.
The rain has been falling for a few minutes now, and still Draco stands by Harry's grave. I suppose it's the old Head Girl in me that decides to interrupt his visit and bring him to shelter. My own private words with Harry can wait.
He doesn't seem to notice me until he feels my hand on his soaked sleeve.
"Draco, you'll catch your death. Come and wait with me under shelter."
The look he gives me is equal parts confusion and surprise. For a moment, it's almost as if he doesn't recognise me. But then the familiar, slow smile appears on his face, and I feel a pang that is equal parts tenderness and fear. I'm surprised by this. For the longest time, I haven't felt anything.
"It is better under there?" he asks. It's an odd question, but then again, it's been a while since anything in my life has felt normal.
"It's dry under there," I respond patiently.
His hair is longer than mine now. I don't think he's taken a trimming spell to it since the war ended. Three years is a long time to go without a grooming charm when you happen to be Draco Malfoy.
"Why do you think he did it?"
The question is casually posed. He even manages to tilt his head to the side, as if contemplating a bothersome quandary.
The question catches me off guard. I'm expecting pleasantries. A "Hello, Hermione, how are you?" wouldn't have gone astray. But then, Draco is hard to predict. It is comforting to know that some things will never change. I know what he's referring to, but I'm loathe to answer him.
Feigning ignorance never works with him, but I'm in a mood to indulge in petulance. His abrupt departure and prolonged disappearance has been a sore point with me.
"Why did Harry do what?" I prompt, stubbornly.
Draco turns his head to give me a semi-reproachful look. "Why he didn't wait for us? Why did he go ahead with the raid on his own?"
An entire Ministry committee had been set up to solve this very mystery. After months of investigation, they had produced nothing. Only Harry could answer that question, and Draco knew better than to ask me.
Suicide and self-sacrifice were the most common terms thrown around whenever people talked about Harry's final moments. I refuse to entertain any of these reasons. Harry would never have left us like that. There was a reason why he had taken off without his team, eventually meeting his demise at the hand of Voldemort himself. But not before striking the killer blow that ended Voldemort's reign for all time.
Harry had been our rock. We depended and relied on him. When things were at this worst, Harry always, always got to his feet. That was what he was born to do.
"Draco, I'm getting soaked."
He ignores that. And he ignores the rain. "When you were a child, did you ever have the feeling that you could do anything, make anything happen if you just wanted it enough?"
I blink the wet from my lashes. "Well, I suppose that's how I found out I was a witch. One morning I was looking for the locket my grandmother had given me. I ransacked my room for hours and couldn't find it. But just when I was about to give up, it came hurtling out from under the bed and into my hands."
Draco shakes his head. "I mean wanting to do something that's beyond magic. Beyond our magic."
"You mean like making the dead come back to life?" I ask, not allowing myself the luxury of looking away from his eyes. We have all been tiptoeing around Draco for too long. He needs to be jarred back to living again.
I hate that I have to be the one to do it.
"Yes," he agrees. "It's just molecules," he continues, "I remember you telling me that's how magic works. A simple re-arrangement of molecules. I believed that if I wanted it badly enough, with enough conviction, that I could make Harry come back. Save him. Heal him."
I take his hand, feeling the prickling sensation of tears begin. "Some things are impossible, even for us."
"Harry used to say that nothing was impossible." Draco's voice is stubborn. At least this is more reassuring than his previous deadened tone.
I shrug and wipe at my nose. "Harry could be a knob sometimes."
Draco chuckles at this, and to my surprise, puts his arm around my shoulders.
"I've missed you, Hermione. Missed talking to you." He frowns down at me, but there is affection there. "You write the most boring letters."
I roll my eyes. "Not all of us have the good fortune of being wealthy enough to take off to exotic and mysterious parts unknown."
"None of that worked. Why don't I feel anything anymore?" he asks, sounding genuinely perplexed. "It's like I'm in someone else's skin. Walking, talking, breathing…but I don't feel any of it."
It's called grief, Draco, I want to tell him. But all I can do is squeeze his hand and stand in a companiable, depressing silence. I know what he's talking about. I'm living what he's talking about.
I think Albus Dumbledore explained it to me best.
You were children. Your scars go deeper because you've had to grow around them. But do not doubt that they will heal. You just need time.
We may have had three years to deal with the aftermath of the war, but it still hasn't been enough.
"Harry loved you." Draco says.
I smile at him, though I know the smile doesn't reach my eyes. It's a practiced move for me.
"I loved him too. Harry was my brother. Blood never mattered."
Draco nods in memory. "If only everyone felt that way."
I smooth his wet hair from his face. For a man that's been standing in the rain for God knows how long, he still looks ridiculously elegant. Like a handsome marble statue made to withstand the elements. He swipes at the rain on his cheeks with the back of his hand. It is a futile gesture. The rain keeps falling, a fast-forwarded impression of tears.
I have seen Draco cry, seen him fall to the floor and howl in the kind of rage and grief that I never, ever want to see again for as long as I live.
"I'm buggered," Draco announces. He closes his eyes and leans his forehead against the top of my head. "I shouldn't have come back so soon," he whispers.
It is extremely tempting to ask where he's been lately. The last letter I received from him arrived more than five months ago. It is equally tempting to scream at him for causing all of us to worry.
But Draco doesn't need my anger right now. He needs a steady hand. Too firm and he'll flee. Too light and he'll slip through the cracks.
I have to be careful.
"Come on. I'm taking you home." I lead him away from Harry's token-bedecked grave and back onto the cemetery pathway. I figure we're both too wet to bother with drying spells until we're under shelter.
But then, Draco pauses along the path and gives me a troubled look.
"I don't want to go home. It's dead there," he tells me. I know better than to push him, knowing that Malfoy Manor, for lack of a better description, is a tomb.
The rain finally begins to ease while I ponder the options. "Come home with me then."
The offer visibly surprises him, and he snaps out of his muted mood a little. "With you? Won't Ron mind?"
It takes effort not to scowl at him. "I'm not with Ron anymore, Draco."
If you bothered to stick around, you would know this. "Oh," he says, sounding neither contrite nor surprised, "I see"
Really. We're like two soul-bruised peas in a pod, Draco and I. If our forces combined, we might
actually constitute half a well-balanced person.
Focussing hard on my small, rented London flat, I Dissapparate us from the wet and cold of the cemetery to the warmth of my home.
My apartment is sparse, but comfortable. There are two bedrooms (one I use as an office), two baths and a large fireplace, which I keep perpetually lit during winter. The only downside is that I'm situated above the local curry house and I've found that the smell of vindaloo and korma tends to rise and cling to the drapes. It took me a month to discover that Jasmine scenting charms worked the best to subdue the scents.
"Strip off and then dry off," I instruct Draco, feeling more like Molly Weasley by the second. "There are fresh towels in the wardrobe," I inform, pointing to my bedroom.
Draco obeys with more docility than I'm comfortable with, leaving a trail of muddy footprints from the hallway to the bedroom.
Fifteen minutes and one industrial Scourgify later, there is no sign of him. Dried, but in need of a thick jumper, I knock on the door.
No answer. No sounds from inside the room either.
"Draco, are you finished?" I ask gently. "Only I need to get fresh clothes from my closet."
Not so much as a whisper.
Worried, I turn the doorknob, thankful to find it unlocked.
I find Draco standing with his back to me. He is stark naked and staring at the numerous photos of Harry and other friends that line the doors inside my wardrobe. An untouched towel is sitting on the bed.
Damn. I bite my tongue to prevent from cursing. How could I have possibly forgotten about the pictures?
"Green eyes," Draco whispers, running his fingers over a picture of Harry sitting by the lake, knees drawn up, looking across the vast expanse of water.
It happens to be one of my favourites because I took the picture, and because it was the only photograph of himself that Harry really liked. I like to imagine that Harry is patiently waiting for Prongs to gallop across the lake.
"You and I were the only ones who called him that," I say, coming to stand beside him to look at the photograph.
"I remember," Draco grins. He bends down to examine an older photograph of Harry seated astride his Firebolt.
Now Draco Malfoy is a very good-looking man, and I cannot say that the thought has never crossed my mind.
I have to be honest. I haven't been with a man since Ron. And the sight of an undressed Draco is stirring, to say the least. I blink, and the image of Harry's far-seeing green eyes blurs before my eyes. Instead, I see Draco with his arms around me, holding me against his larger, harder body. The pulsing between my legs intensifies, and shame floods my body, hot on the heels of arousal.
"I should get dressed," says Draco. He looks down at me through his lashes. Strange how I never noticed how dark they were compared to the hair on his head.
"Yes," I say, trying to sound stern. "You should."
Wrong doesn't even begin to describe what I'm feeling. But the guilt at my sudden attack of lust for my friend is tempered by the realisation that I am actually feeling something. Like pulling the loose twig of a beaver-dam and watching the water come through in a trickle, and then a gush, and then a torrent.
At this point, coherent thought starts to become difficult. Draco is speaking. I strain to make out what he's saying because all I seem to hear is the deafening thudding of the heart that I had given up to atrophy ages ago.
I hear Harry's name, I hear my name. I hear words like 'need', 'want', and 'feel'. Draco says all this while he runs his fingers over Harry's pictures, as if they were etched in Braille.
"Draco," is all I am able to muster. I place a comforting hand on his warm, bare shoulder, as if that alone would allow me to absorb some of his melancholy. No matter than I'm already overflowing with my own.
The entire whole of my skin zings when he takes me into a hug. At first, his hold over me is casual, friendly, brotherly even, for all that he's as naked as the day he was born.
But then, with a delicate shudder, he leans further in.
He tells me how good it feels to hold me, how good I smell and how much he needs…
"Something. I came back for something Hermione. Only I don't fucking know what." His breath is hot and moist against my neck. I can feel the frustration and the anger in the corded tension of his body.
"Shh. It's alright."
How can I do anything else but reach my hands up to unbutton my wet, blouse. What jury on the planet would convict me for wanting to be touched and held?
I know Draco has been with girls before. Although I don't know if he has found the experience to be enjoyable, or to his taste. But all these doubts melt into a puddle on the floor, next to my blouse and bra.
Wet jeans, I soon discover, are a bitch to pull off, and Draco nearly rips the zipper of my old, blue denims in his bid to remove them.
Our bare skin is cold and clammy when we finally press together. We smell of rain and the cut grass from the cemetery. Our kissing seems more artful than it ought to be, given the unlikeliness of any of this happening in the first place. His hands on me move with a languid sort of uncertainly, but his kiss is all confidence. It's wild and messy and so deep it makes my bones ache with longing.
At the core of the kiss, our tongues slide and writhe against each other in a wet, warm friction that imitates another, more primal joining. I run my mouth over as much of his body as possible, tasting his fine skin wherever I can reach it. Draco is a quite a bit bigger than me, and there is an abundance of silky skin to sample.
Belongs to Harry, a voice at the back of my mind chants as I caress the lightly defined muscles of his abdomen.
Harry's…Harry's…Harry's. All Harry's.
Harry must have surely kissed that sensitive spot behind Draco's ear. Harry would have surely discovered the delightful smattering of freckles across Draco's left shoulder, or traversed the contours and bumps of Draco's skull.
Harry would have known what it was like to kiss his way down Draco's long, lean body to take hold of his cock.
I can't help it. I start crying quietly because I cannot rid my mind of the image of Draco and Harry together. My heart feels like it is being turned inside out.
They must have been the most beautiful sight imaginable. There is no way in the world that Draco Malfoy is in my bed, making love to me with more passion than I have ever experienced in my life. All the counselling and therapy that the magical world has to offer cannot possibly make me feel as alive and whole as I do now.
This is not betrayal. This is a tribute to memory. This is healing.
And so despite the fact that I feel like a lecherous opportunist, I close my mouth around the tip of Draco's cock and slowly draw the sleek, velvety length of him inside. I set to work wetting him thoroughly with my tongue, pausing to suck on the head and lap up the clear viscous fluid that appears there.
"Ah hell…" Draco hisses. I feel his hand make a fist in my wet hair, and then release.
I look up and can only imagine at how large and uncertain my eyes must look at that precise moment. "Do you want me to stop?"
For a moment, it looks like he does, the high spots of colour on his cheek seem to pale. But then he shakes his head. I notice that his eyes are no longer silver. They are a dark, slate grey and they are completely spellbinding.
"Don't stop," he says, in mid-pant. "I'll die if you stop."
There are few things in this world that translate to less of an invitation.
"It's ok. Let it go, Draco."
He does. With a groan, he begins to thrust in and out of my mouth in a steady rhythm. The hinges of my jaw ache after a few minutes of this, but I manage to keep up the pace, managing to take more and more of him down my throat as we go. The scent of him is strong and musky. My arousal is so acute that I'm surprised I haven't climaxed before his hands even have had a chance to touch me where I'm full and aching.
And then, quite suddenly, he is touching me. And so is Harry, it seems.
I can feel Harry on Draco's breath as he slides whispery kisses down my collarbones and between my breasts. It's love for Harry that shines through his eyes when he raises his head to look at me. There is almost too much pain there to bear, but I don't think it's physically possible for me to make him stop.
There is also plenty of vintage Draco. The small smirk that he flashes at me before he takes my right nipple to suckle. The cheeky look he gives me when he sees that my white cotton briefs are damp from arousal. He kisses the insides of my elbows and my hipbones, bathes my navel with his tongue. When he finally draws my knees up and begins to lap between my legs, it's all I can do not to bite down on a pillow and scream as I climax.
Needless to say, neither of us lasts very long by the time he slams me back against the mattress and roughly buries the length of his cock into me. I nearly black out from the force of a second, powerful orgasm. Less than a minute of violent pumping culminates in him shuddering against me. I sniffle, stroke his cheek and whisper nonsensical words as he empties himself with a harsh groan.
"I'll have your clothes dried in a minute," I tell him much later. His hair is mussed and his eyes are half-lidded. I experience the urge to cover him with every spare blanket in my house and then force-feed him hot chocolate.
He gives me a long, measuring look, and in that moment I feel more naked and exposed than I had been minutes before.
Draco leans back against the pillows. There is a healthy flush to his skin which I feel absurdly pleased about. "If I could stay here. Just for a little while," he requests.
"Oh." I say, nodding, and hoping that my eyes don't betray my thoughts. "Of course you can. Sleep as long as you want." I make to leave the bed, thinking to give him the distance I know he usually requires to function. "I'll just be in the kitchen..."
"Hermione, you dunce, " he sighs and sits up in bed. "I meant I want you to stay with me."
Without waiting for me to respond, which probably goes to show that Draco knows me better than most other people, he pulls me under the sheets. My leg is draped over his thighs and the back of my head is cradled against his hand. I seem to fit perfectly into him.
At one time, he might have held Harry thus, but since Harry had been nearly the same size as Draco, I think it would be safe to claim this particular indulgence as wholly original.
For the first time in a long while, the last thing I see before I fall asleep again are not a pair of faraway green eyes.
These ones are silver.